At the place known as Head-Smashed-In in southwestern Alberta, Aboriginal people practiced a form of group hunting for nearly 6,000 years before European contact. The large communal bison traps of the Plains were the single greatest food-getting method ever developed in human history. Hunters, working with their knowledge of the land and of buffalo behaviour, drove their quarry over a cliff and into wooden corrals. The rest of the group butchered the kill in the camp below.
Author Jack Brink, who devoted 25 years of his career to "The Jump," has chronicled the cunning, danger, and triumph in the mass buffalo hunts and the culture they supported. He also recounts the excavation of the site and the development of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, which has hosted 2 million visitors since it opened in 1987. Brink's masterful blend of scholarship and public appeal is rare in any discipline, but especially in North American pre-contact archaeology.
Brink attests, "I love the story that lies behind the jump-the events and planning that went into making the whole event work. I continue to learn more about the complex interaction between people, bison and the environment, and I continue to be impressed with how the ancient hunters pulled off these astonishing kills."
Jack W. Brink is Archaeology Curator at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Canada. He received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota and his M.A. from the University of Alberta. His interests also include the study of rock art images of the northern Plains, and he enjoys working with Aboriginal communities on heritage issues.
Foreward by Eldon Yellowhorn Preface Acknowledgements 1. The Buffalo Jump Communal Buffalo Hunting Not Just Any Cliff The Site The Cliff How Long Have Buffalo Jumped? Blood on the Rocks: The Story of Head-Smashed-In 2. The Buffalo Is it Bison or Buffalo? In Numbers, Numberless Tricks of the Trade The Fats of Life 3. A Year in the Life Calves Mothers Fathers The Big Picture Science and the Historic Record The Seasonal Round Summer Fall and Winter Spring The Season of Buffalo Jumping 4. The Killing Fields Finding Bison Drive Lanes Points in Time Ancient Knowledge Back to the Drive Lanes Deadmen In Small Things Forgotten 5. Rounding Up The Spirit Sings The Nose of the Buffalo Fire this Time Luring the Buffalo Buffalo Runners Lost Calves Billy's Stories The End of the Drive Of Illusions, Pickup Trucks, and Curves in the Road 6. The Great Kill Leap of Faith Overkill? Drop of Death Bones on Fire Let the Butchering Begin Bison Hide as Insulator Back to the Assembly Line 7. Cooking up the Spoils The Processing Site Day Fades to Night Dried Goods Grease is the Word High Plains Cooking Hazel Gets Slimed Buffalo Chips Hot Rocks Time for a Roast Where are the Skulls? Packing Up, Among the Bears 8. Going Home Buffalo Hides Pemmican Snow Falling on Cottonwoods 9. The End of the Buffalo Hunt The Skin of the Animal The Last of the Buffalo Jumps Rivers of Bones Final Abandonment of Head-Smashed-In 10. The Future of the Past Beginnings A Beer-Soaked Bar Napkin Cranes on the Cliff A Rubber Cliff And a Rubber Dig The Blackfoot Get Involved Meeting with the Piikani Joe Crowshoe A Painted Skull Where are the Blood? Hollywood North Opening and Aftermath Of Time and Tradition Epilogue: Just a Simple Stone Note Sources Bibliography Index